A Dissident

HavelFrom Vaclav Havel’s The Power of the Powerless, quoted by Chris Hedges in his always challenging column (“The Price of Resistance“) earlier this month:

You do not become a ‘dissident’ just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career.  You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. … The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public. He offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin—and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.

Easter: Resurrected Beyond a Social Ethic

BerriganBy Craig Larson, co-director (with his spouse, Carol) of a Catholic Worker farm, growing potatoes and haskap berries in Swan River, Manitoba.  They give their food freely away to food banks.  Originally posted on their wonderful site: The Parkland Worker Blog: An Unauthorized Diary of Care and Compassion (thanks to RD.net contributor Joshua Weresch for connecting us to this great work). 

In 1957 Daniel Berrigan, SJ, was appointed professor of New Testament studies at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY.  While there he organized students to look into the lack of adequate low-income housing.  Organizing a Catholic Worker house of hospitality earned him an irate phone call from the bishop insisting that he stop this endeavour.  It seemed that many of the slumlords were Catholic and held that at the very least a CW house would undercut their incomes.  Even though a bishop had no power over an academic position, Berrigan’s actions ultimately resulted in his being removed from priestly and academic assignment, relocated to Baltimore, and then reassigned to numerous locations in Central and South America.  He understood it as banishment…exile…punishment issued by his superiors, but used every opportunity there to immerse himself in the lives of the poor, the disenfranchised, and the people living in the barrios.  You may read about the particulars of this in his autobiography, To Dwell In Peace. Continue reading

What it Would be Like to Win

ErnstA post from a couple of months ago from activist and Vanderbilt Divinity student Margaret Ernst:

For those taking action against Trump in Nashville today:

1) I love you.
2) This is a ritual I made up before participating in a direct action a few weeks ago, and I want to offer it to you.

Ritual for before direct action:

Light three candles.

With the first candle, name and honor the loved ones and ancestors who give you strength, who challenge you, hold you, and have your back.
Continue reading

Easter’s Aftermath

ResurrectionBy Ken Sehested, the editor and author of prayerandpolitiks.org, an online journal at the intersection of spiritual formation and prophetic action

Easter resurrection is never as assured
as the arrival of Easter bunnies.

Clothiers and chocolate-makers alike yearn
for the season no less than every cleric.

And yet, in my experience, the Spirit
rarely blows according to the calendar,
much less on demand. Continue reading

What Resurrection Means

LyniceOur Last day of the Lenten Journey.  [S]he is risen indeed.  From Rev. Lynice Pinkard of Oakland’s Seminary of the Street, in an interview with Sun Magazine in 2014.

We’re not going to do this work — of bringing people together, of stemming the tide of ecological abuse, of dealing with income inequality — without having something inside us change. Before I even get to my interaction with you, I need to examine my own self-interest. That’s what resurrection means to me: being able to rise above self-interest and the interests of your group. For me resurrection is about laying down our weapons and getting up off our assets. Resurrection is not merely about whether Jesus is dead or alive, in the tomb or not. In Romans, the Bible says the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can quicken our mortal bodies to life. We can leave our cemeteries, abandon the deadness and the death-dealing nature of our lives. We can rise above the life-limiting forces that hold us down. For me, that’s resurrection: crossing over from self-interest to true solidarity.

A Struggle of Interpretation

ElsaDay 46 of our Lenten Journey beyond “Beyond Vietnam.”  From Costa Rican biblical scholar Elsa Tamez, an excerpt from an article entitled “The Bible and Five Hundred Years of Conquest” (2005).

We see that for five hundred years we have been involved in a struggle of interpretation: some from a liberating perspective and others from a legitimating perspective of oppression. The struggle for a liberating reading of the Bible is good, nevertheless, it seems to me. After taking a look at history and seeing ourselves there as in a mirror, we need to go beyond the hermeneutical struggle. We should revise the discourse of our written canon and the logic of Christian thought; maybe there is a deeper problem that facilitates the rapid inversion of values. I am referring to aspects such as the biblical conception of time, that is, infinite progression toward the final victory (the Day of the Lord, the battle of Armageddon, the crushing of the enemy). These can be a double-edged sword—or the idea of a universalist, tolerant, egalitarian God, which is projected in the following scheme: “God is good for all; for that reason, all are good for God.” There is no distinguishing the difference. The sacrificial discourse, principally christological, sometimes degenerates into demands of unnecessary sacrifices or into the logic of crucifying the crucifiers; others such as the Elect of God, the Holy War, and so on need to be reworked. This is a matter not just of intellectual concern but of honesty before unjust practices that are easily legitimated with the Bible and theology. All of this leads us to rethink popular hermeneutics and to rework in great depth the significance of biblical authority.

The Fourth Word

Hovsep MesropianBy Ric Hudgens, for Good Friday (art by Hovsep Mesropian)

He was hanging there trying to remember,
the weight of his body weighing on his mind.
What was the first line of that song we used to sing?
His head was perplexed with pain, his muscles
aching in place, his body stretched out along this beam,
no way to find rest that didn’t increase the sting.

Continue reading